Intentions to Eat a Healthy Diet: Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior in an African American Faith-Based Population
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Diabetes and heart disease are two major health concerns for African Americans, who tend to have worse nutritional intake than Whites. Black churches, which serve primarily African Americans, are influential institutions in the African American community that can assist with promotion of healthy eating behaviors. Although church involvement has been associated with healthier dietary beliefs and behaviors, church settings can also impede healthy eating due to social pressure to consume unhealthy foods. To contribute to better design of church-based dietary intervention studies, there is a need to understand psychosocial influences, particularly beliefs and intentions to eat a healthy diet. Yet, there is a gap in the literature on studies that have examined this key predictor of dietary behaviors among church-affiliated African American populations. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is an established theory that has been demonstrated to explain the relationships between behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, control beliefs, intentions to perform a health behavior and the behavior itself. The purpose of the current study is to examine intentions to eat a healthy diet and dietary behaviors (i.e., F/V and fat intake) in a sample of African-American church and affiliated community members using the TBP. Participants (N = 352) were recruited from six Black churches in the Kansas City metropolitan area and completed surveys exploring TPB constructs and health behaviors. Participants were primarily female (68%), with an average age of 54 years (SD = 13.1). Findings indicated behavioral and normative beliefs predicted intentions to eat a healthy diet, even when controlling for covariates (i.e., age, sex, BMI, religiosity, baseline fat or F/V intake). Control beliefs predicted fat intake, but this was attenuated after controlling for covariates. Intentions predicted fat and F/V intake, but these effects were moderated by covariates. These findings provide support for the use of the TPB in examining dietary behaviors among church-affiliated African Americans and suggest church-based healthy diet interventions should emphasize promotion of behavioral and normative beliefs. This study represents an opportunity to understand dietary beliefs and behaviors in the African-American faith community, with potential to inform dietary interventions in key African American faith-based settings.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. Sample questionnaire